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Roadfly Magazine
Chef Alton Brown: BMWs, Books, Good Eats & Iron Chef America
Issue Fourteen
November 8, 2004
Alton Brown:
Talks Bikes, Books, & Good Eats
Helmet Guide:
What to Look For
2004 BMW X3 2.5i Sport
2005 Chrysler 300C Hemi
iPod FM Transmitter Review
Coming Next Issue
Chip Foose
BMW 760Li
VW Phaeton W12
Prepare for Winter

2004 BMW X3 2.5i Sport
The Younger X Does BMW Proud
By Steve Litscher

(October 7, 2004)

2004 BMW X3 2.5i Sport

BMW's XDrive system works flawlessly

BMW X3 Behind that hatch is a lot of cargo room

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BMW North America
We have to take issue with the saying, "You never get a second chance to make a good impression." Having been a firm believer in that saying, we weren't expecting much as we took delivery of a 2004 BMW X3 2.5i Sport. Like many, we've become a bit jaded, thanks to the "radical" design stylings of the now infamous Mr. Bangle. So when we caught a first glimpse of the X3 in a spy photo, we thought, "Oh great- here we go again." We're happy to report that the X3 not only looks better than it does on paper, but performs better than we ever could have imagined.

We took delivery of the X3 and were given the opportunity to drive it in an environment where few X3s are likely to go: off-roading. And while the X3's off-road performance isn't on par with the likes of Land Rover, it is surprisingly competent. On more civilized surfaces, the X3 does BMW proud by delivering one heckuva driving experience. But more on that later.

The BMW X3 is available in two flavors: the X3 2.5i and the X3 3.0i, and true to BMW's identification system, the 2.5 and 3.0 moniker refers to the engine configurations. The X3 2.5i receives BMW's 2.5-liter inline six-cylinder and delivers 184 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque. The X3 3.0i takes advantage of BMW's trusty 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder that delivers 225 horsepower and 214 pound-feet of torque. No matter the flavor, all X3's ship with BMW's xDrive, a seamless and intelligent all-wheel-drive system.

In addition to supplying more ponies, the X3 3.0i delivers a more comprehensive set of standard luxury options than the X3 2.5i, but it does so at a price premium. Our X3 2.5i was nicely equipped with BMW's premium package ($3800), the sport package ($1500), a five-speed automatic transmission ($1275), cold weather package ($750), park distance control ($700) and privacy glass ($350). Add all of those options to the X3 2.5i's base price of $30,300, and our sticker price came in at just under $40,000. Expect to pay an additional $3000 for the 3.0-liter option. No matter how you slice it, that's a lot of cash.

The X3, despite it's substantial size, is considerably lighter than its bigger brother, the X5. Weighing in at around 4000-pounds, the X3 is almost 700-pounds more svelte than the X5 3.0i. Size-wise, they're about the same, with the X3 riding on a slightly (1-inch) shorter wheelbase, and with an overall length that's just 4-inches shorter than the X5. Surprisingly, the X3 offers more cargo room than the X5 - BMW claims the X3 has 30% more cargo capacity with the seats folded flat, and 26% more cargo capacity with the seats in their upright position.

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